Friday, December 23, 2016

Birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith 12/23/16

In my bedroom among other pieces - such as a statue of the Savior, statues of the Mayan representation of the Savior Kulkulkan, and a  beautiful painting of Joseph and Mary - I have this small bust of Joseph Smith (beside a replica of a Sunstone from Nauvoo). Although this is the Christmas season today the Prophet Joseph Smith was also born 211 years ago, on the winter solstice when light is coming in to the world (and dying on the summer solstice when light is going out of the world). This earliest ever discovered painting of him was done by my fourth-great grandfather David White Rogers, who saw Joseph in vision while living in NYC before he had ever met him and became very well acquainted with him in Nauvoo.

 On this his birthday I would like to honor his incredible legacy with a short testimony of him. I know that Joseph Smith was indeed a true prophet of God and of the Savior. I know that they appeared to him in vision and called to be a modern-day prophet. And I know that he was chosen by them to restore Jesus Christ's original church to the earth to prepare the earth and mankind for the Second Coming of the Savior of the World, an appointment that was given from before the foundation of the world.

In fact, as Truman G. Madsen says in his incomparable work "Joseph Smith the Prophet", there are biblical and apocryphal prophecies of the Prophet Joseph -

"Lorenzo Snow reported a day when someone came and asked Joseph (it had happened hundred of times), "Who are you?" He replied, "Noah came before the flood. I have come before the fire." That leads to a probing question: How much did Joseph Smith know about himself and his own calling?

In a Nauvoo discourse Joseph refers to the first chapter of John wherein John the Baptist was asked, "Who art thou?" He replied that he was not the Christ. "What then? Art thou Elias? Art thou that prophet [who is to come]?" Joseph's critics would have thought it a stretch for him to say, "You see, there is a reference to a great prophet to come. I am he." With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and embellished traditions, sometimes fanciful, in later Judaism, it becomes apparent that two centuries before Christ a tradition taught that there were two messianic figures to come. The Messiah ben Judah, the Son of Judah, the Son of David, the Stem of Jesse, would indeed redeem. But alongside that set of prophecies and all they entailed was another set about a son of Joseph who would be a restorer of all things.

I said to a Harvard scholar who was famous for his New Testament skill, "What possibly could be restored?" He said, "Well, you know the phrase in the Lord's Prayer that says 'Thy kingdom come.' This was to be offered by Christians who had just received the kingdom in Jesus. But clearly the prayer presupposes that something more is to come." Then he said, "There's also that language in the Book of Acts about the 'restitution of all things.'" This man is an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He knows nothing of Joseph Smith (or didn't before we had our conversation). If the restorer wasn't a Joseph named Smith, the world must wait for "that prophet who is to come," who is to restore all things."

I testify that Joseph Smith is the fulfillment of this prophecy, and I, for one, am grateful for his courage and endurance to the end that has given me and so many others such an amazing legacy of faith.


Blogger leilani said...

Ooo! Books! Someday... Oh! That looks interesting! On to read list... Hey! I'm currently reading that one! Great minds! :)

After the sparkly objects you distracted me with, I did manage to focus. :) I am at a loss for words. All I can think of to say is: Amen and Amen. Thank you for sharing.

9:45 AM  

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